Select Committee on Science and Technology Fifth Report


Call for Evidence

  The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has appointed Sub-Committee II, under the chairmanship of Lord Craig of Radley, to conduct an enquiry into the use of digital images as evidence.

  Because digital images are easy to copy and it may be difficult to distinguish a copy, or a copy which has been "doctored", from the original, concern has been raised over their use as evidence. As analogue systems are being displaced by digital ones and the investment in digital technology for image capture and signal processing increases, it is important that any concerns over the use of this technology be addressed now if wise investment decisions are to be made.

  The enquiry will examine the need for any special measures to ensure the integrity and authenticity of digital images. It will consider if any measures are necessary to ensure that modern image processing technologies, such as compression and enhancement techniques when applied to either digital or analogue images, are acceptable in court. It will also examine the implications of video surveillance technologies for civil liberties.

  The Sub-Committee invites written submissions on all matters relevant to this topic, but in particular on the questions listed below, with a view to making a report to the House of Lords early in 1998.

1.  What is the current and forecast future use of digital technology for image collection, storage and transmission? What is its use by the courts and the legal profession? What is the state of the art of image manipulation?

2.  Does the ease of copying, manipulating and tampering with digital images, and the consequent difficulties in maintaining an audit trail, mean they should be treated differently when used as evidence?

3.  Would special measures to authenticate digital images, eg watermarking, increase their utility as evidence? What would be the preferred practical measure?

4.  Under what circumstances and with what controls should modified or enhanced images be used as evidence?

5.  Do technologies which compress data or use error correction technology when transmitting it raise special problems ?

6.  Do surveillance cameras, particularly if used in conjunction with image tracking software, threaten civil liberties?

7.  Should there be statutory controls on the placement and use of surveillance cameras and release of information from them?

8.  Should further advice or training be provided to law enforcement officers and the courts on the technical limitations of this technology?

9.  Is there the need for special measures to control the publication of modified images by the media?

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